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Co-productive agility and four collaborative pathways to sustainability transformations

The article 'Co-productive agility and four collaborative pathways to sustainability transformations' is published in Global Environmental Change and accessible via OpenAccess. Professor Anthropology of Sustainability and Livelihood Marja Spierenburg of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University is one of the co-authors. Co-production, the collaborative weaving of research and practice by diverse societal actors, is argued to play an important role in sustainability transformations. Yet, there is still poor understanding of how to navigate the tensions that emerge in these processes. Through analyzing 32 initiatives worldwide that co-produced knowledge and action to foster sustainable social-ecological relations, we conceptualize ‘co-productive agility’ as an emergent feature vital for turning tensions into transformations.

Josephine M.Chambers, Marja Spierenburg et. al.
22 December 2021
Link to the article

Co-productive agility refers to the willingness and ability of diverse actors to iteratively engage in reflexive dialogues to grow shared ideas and actions that would not have been possible from the outset. It relies on embedding knowledge production within processes of change to constantly recognize, reposition, and navigate tensions and opportunities. Co-productive agility opens up multiple pathways to transformation through: (1) elevating marginalized agendas in ways that maintain their integrity and broaden struggles for justice; (2) questioning dominant agendas by engaging with power in ways that challenge assumptions, (3) navigating conflicting agendas to actively transform interlinked paradigms, practices, and structures; (4) exploring diverse agendas to foster learning and mutual respect for a plurality of perspectives. We explore six process considerations that vary by these four pathways and provide a framework to enable agility in sustainability transformations. We argue that research and practice spend too much time closing down debate over different agendas for change – thereby avoiding, suppressing, or polarizing tensions, and call for more efforts to facilitate better interactions among different agendas.

Musical abstract 

Very special is the musical abstract that author Josie Chambers made with her good friend Noor Noor. A for our paper that I made This is the first Global Environmental Change's official musical abstract. This musical abstract tells the story of the paper  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2.... In the paper, we distinguish four archetypal roles that people often step into to try to make change in the world. Representing these archetypes as distinct musical instruments (see below), we show their journey from co-productive rigidity to co-productive agility: "the willingness and ability of diverse actors to navigate different agendas for change to grow ideas and actions which were unforeseen from the outset".

Hero: Voice of Josie Chambers (lead author of the paper)
Genie: Synth bass (Noor Noor)
Host: Rhythm (Noor Noor)
Woodpecker: Electronic meeps (created from Josie's voice)
Music produced by Noor Noor & Josie Chambers
Video produced by Josie Chambers
Graphical abstract produced by Stacey McCormack (Visual Knowledge)

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Practical guide

You can also check out the practical guide with exercises to explore co-productive agility to help initiate or improve collaborations.

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